Day Four Of My 2022 Walk Across Connecticut
The fourth and final day of my annual Walk Across Connecticut started in Naugatuck and headed towards New Haven.
Here’s a quick recap of the day:
One of my priorities in Congress is to build more healthy fun summer programming for kids. As a parent I know how much kids need a break and how hard it is to find affordable care. About thirty minutes into my walk, I passed by the Naugatuck YMCA summer camp today and stopped in to say thanks to the staff who do the important work of caring for our kids.
The biggest reason I do this walk every year is the people I meet along the way. I want to tell you two stories of people I met in Naugatuck — both examples of how this walk impacts the way I think about policy.
First, meet Kaylee, an expecting mom, and Dolly, owner of Personal Pampering Salon. Kaylee is in subsidized housing and pays 25% of her income in rent. But she’s getting married, and the housing authority is upping her rent bc of the double income. But the net result is both she and her husband will pay a greater % of income in rent. A true “marriage penalty”.
Dolly owns a salon and has noticed recently that the care products she imports from China have been causing infections for her clients. So she has switched to American made products. She wonders why there isn’t more scrutiny of Chinese imports.
Kaylee and Dolly are people I would probably never have met if I didn’t do this walk. But they raise real issues that will inform the way I think about, and vote on, housing policy and trade policy.
Next, meet Salaam and his brother Samir. Salaam owns a gas station in Naugatuck. His brother, Samir, just arrived from Yemen after working as a guard at the U.S. embassy. Grateful Yemeni-Americans, they send every dollar they can back to their family in war torn Sana’a.
Finally, meet Ann and Keith, who stopped to talk to me during my walk. They help run Amity Allies, which works to fight discrimination in the local schools.
Every year, when I do this walk, one thing that is constantly on the mind of the parents I meet is the epidemic of gun violence in this country. Shortly after I crossed into Bethany, a local mom stopped me along the walk, fighting back tears.
“I tell my son ‘I love you’ every morning when he gets on the bus, bc after Uvalde, I want to make sure it’s the last thing I say to him if he doesn’t make it home.
It’s unacceptable I have to think that way.”
This year more than ever, I spoke to parents who are more scared now than they ever have been before for the safety of their kids in school. But they all have hope, and they let me know how grateful they are for our work last month to pass the bipartisan gun safety bill.
After 11 miles of walking, I stopped at Billy’s, a local favorite in Bethany for lunch with Republican First Selectman Paula Cofrancesco. Had a very tasty meatball sub, and also had the chance to chat with a bunch of locals.
Walking across the state means plenty of alone time on the road. Luckily, I have some friends join me along the way. Thanks to my friend State Representative Mary Welander for joining me for a little while in Woodbridge.
In the last stretch to New Haven, I realized I was running just a little ahead of schedule, so I stopped into the New England Brewing Company for a cold beer. Connecticut knows beer, and it’s always a treat to stop by one of our many local brewers.
Four days, 13 towns and 65 miles later, I made it to New Haven and across the finish line. There was a nice crowd waiting for me at Southern’s campus, not to mention the Seaside Creamery ice cream truck with treats for everyone.
I always say the walk is one of my favorite weeks of the year, and this year was no different. I never get tired of exploring this beautiful state. Each day of this walk, and every corner of my route had something new to offer — from the peaks and valleys of the Litchfield hills, to the mom and pops dotting Route 63, to the rich diversity, culture, and arts of New Haven. So yes, I’m tired and my feet hurt. But I’m also really energized.
This walk helps me stay connected to what matters to people in Connecticut, and I meet so many interesting, kind and passionate people along the way. So I want to say a thank you to the people of Connecticut for allowing me to do what I do. I love my job and serving the people of this state.
Hanging up my sneakers until next year.